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How Do You Get to School?

Check out the amazing journeys these students take every day.

Atule’er, China

Do you get annoyed when the school bus is late? Does your long walk to school tire you out? Well, imagine climbing up and down an actual mountain to get to class! That’s what kids in the village of Atule’er (ah-TOO-leer) in China do. The village is atop a cliff in a remote area of southwest China. There’s no room for a school there. So kids travel 2,624 feet down steel ladders to get to the nearest school.

Sounds pretty scary, right? Believe it or not, the trip used to be even more dangerous. Up until a few years ago, kids risked their lives climbing rotting bamboo ladders. But in 2016, the Chinese government replaced the broken ladders with ones made of steel. Now the trip is much safer.

Layag Layag, Philippines

Water, water everywhere. That describes life in the village of Layag Layag in the Philippines. The village is in a marsh, an area of land where water covers the ground most of the time. Until a few years ago, kids had to put their supplies in plastic bags and swim more than a mile to school! That’s because many families in the area couldn’t afford boats. Students would often miss school or arrive late, tired, and soaking wet.

A group called the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation changed that. Since 2011, it has provided school boats for students in Layag Layag and other marsh villages in the Philippines. Now kids across the country have a quick, safe, and dry way to get to school.

“Because of these boats, we will not be absent anymore,” says student Azra Digo Nadzer Karon.

Mountain Village, Colorado

Lucas Meridith has a lot in common with the students in Atule’er. The Colorado 12-year-old also travels down a mountain to get to school. But Lucas doesn’t climb. He rides a gondola—an enclosed lift suspended from a cable.

“It feels like I’m riding a slow roller coaster in midair,” Lucas says.

Lucas lives in Mountain Village, high in the ski slopes of Colorado. There’s no school in his town. So he travels about 800 feet down the San Juan Mountains to the town of Telluride each day.

One of his favorite things about the ride? He often spots prairie dogs, elk, and bears amid the pine trees.

“The views are outstanding and breathtaking,” says Lucas.

Map It Out

There are different ways to get from Layag Layag to Mountain Village. Describe the route you would take. For example, in which direction would you go? What bodies of water would you cross?

Continue the Learning Journey
Beyond the Bus

Watch a video to learn how kids around the world get to school.

Watch the video "Beyond the Bus." Think about what kind of transportation you'd like to take to school. Would you like to ride a horse? How about a helicopter or a sled? In your notebook, draw a picture that illustrates how you'd like to get to school and write a few sentences explaining why.

How did your family members and neighbors get to school when they were younger? Call up some relatives and neighbors and ask them about what school was like when they were a kid. Here are some questions you might ask:

  • How did you get to school each day? 
  • What was your daily school routine like? 
  • What subjects did you study? 
  • What did you enjoy learning about? 

See if they can dig up any old school photos too! Then create a “Then and Now” collage using words, photos, and illustrations that show your experience in school on one side and the experiences of those you interviewed on the other.

Be an Author!

Write a short fiction story in three easy steps 

Write a dramatic story of survival about a student’s daily trip to school. You can write about one of the kids from the story or use your imagination. Check out the slideshow “Be an Author!” to help you get started.

This article was created for Scholastic News 4 magazine.

Image Credits: Dong mu - Imaginechina/AP Images (Header); Chen Jie/The Beijing News/VCG via Getty Images (Climbing); Courtesy of Yellow Boat Foundation (Boat); Marla Meridith (Lucas Meridith); Edvard Nalbantjan/ (Gondola); Jim McMahon (Map)